Amy Covington Hudson
To most people starfish are just starfish, but to Amy Covington Hudson they represent much more. She sees renewal, hope and creativity in these sea creatures that have the ability to regrow lost or broken limbs. In 2015 she hand crafted a few starfish trees for display in her shop, Flair, in Bay St. Louis.
After a spinal injury sidelined Hudson from her business and many other things in life, she was in intense pain and had to close the shop. “I felt lost and broken, and in mental and physical pain, I searched for answers,” she says. “My renewal came from these inspirational little stars, each with arms tipped upwards toward the heavens.”
In 2018 she began making starfish trees in earnest as a creative and mental outlet after surgery didn’t completely free her of pain. When she and husband Mac moved back to Gulfport, Amy turned their garage into a starfish tree workshop and channeled her creative efforts into the 24-step process of these mixed media art pieces. A neighbor and artist, Cissy Quinn, suggested that she and Hudson have a pop-up yard sale. That brought attention and orders for Hudson’s creations started growing. She still had an online site from her shop which turned out a perfect setup for selling the trees. Another boost came last year when she was invited to be part of a Christmas trunk show at Beau Rivage Casino. Now she is carefully adding some local retail outlets.
“It started in my heart and spilled into my garage. The trees got more attention as people driving by saw them,” Hudson recalls. “I was creating them for family and friends. I’m telling my story with stars, not words, and it’s still evolving.”
Hudson was able to continue creating the trees during the COVID lockdown with minimal delay thanks to a large shipment of shells she ordered before the pandemic. She also used the time to set up the business for selling her creations, which now include starfish ornaments. “I had to have faith to sink a lot of money into the shipment.”
Because there’s a lot of labor involved with cutting the wooden bases and drilling the starfish, Hudson now has a team of helpers, some of whom are retired. “They are a great team and a god send,” she says.
The starfish of various sizes are topped with many different types of shells. “The shells are responsibly sourced from the ocean floor in the Philippines,” she stated, “and starfish are prolific breeders.”
Hudson grew up in Gulfport, the daughter of Barbara Garner and Bill Covington. While she was enduring pain at a level 10 on the pain chart and having her first surgery cancelled, other family members were also going through serious illnesses. “There were days I would just look at the clock and wait for Mac to come home,” she recalls. “I tried everything non surgical but that didn’t work for me.”
Finally, the surgery was performed and she now rates her pain at level two. Without dwelling on it, Hudson points to an abusive former relationship as a contributor to her injury. That’s why she’s a supporter of the Women’s Center for Non Violence and donated proceeds from her pop-up show to the center. “There’s fear, but there’s also hope. We all need help,” she says. “My story parallels the starfish story because we’re growing again and rising above circumstances.”
She praises her husband, Mac Hudson, for being so supportive and a blessing. As a starfish artist and small business owner, she’s moving on, not looking back. And the starfish are part of that journey.
Trees may be purchased at www.shoppingwithflair.com with local pickup available, at Robin’s Nest in the Pass, or at the Ron Myers Christmas City Gift Show.